“Ready to lose a few games to try something new.” In this one statement Virat Kohli made clear what he planned to do in the series against Sri Lanka. With just under two years to go for the next World Cup, the team management has decided to try out various combinations of players and see which fits well.
The management has taken this step by resting Yuvraj Singh, Ravichandra Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja,Mohammad Shami & Umesh Yadav from the Sri Lanka ODI series, and picking Manish Pandey, Chahal, Axar Patel & Shardul Thakur instead. These picks show that the Indian team management was looking to find how their spin options would do in an ODI series, while also trying out a seam option with Shardul, and using Manish Pandey to see how he suits the number 4 batsman role.
Yuvraj Singh, Ravichandra Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja,Mohammad Shami & Umesh Yadav were rested for the ODI series
With the squad selected it was now up to Kohli to see which combination worked best for him. Let’s take a look at what all he has tried in this series.
Kedhar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, KL Rahul & Hardik Pandya are batsmen India has tried in that elusive number 4 spot in this series. With the top three spots nailed down, India were looking for a batsman who can come in and play according to what the situation demanded be it building an innings or building a quick start. None of the 4 batsman made an impact in that position and it will be safe to say that India will keep experimenting with this position as it’s importance is well known in the current ODI environment.
India had three frontline spinners at their disposal in this series Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav & Axar Patel. Two of these were wrist spinners, with Chahal right handed and Kuldeep left handed. What these picks show us is that India are trying to look for wrist spinners who are wicket takers, since the last World Cup the top three wicket takers amongst spinners were all wrist spinners (Adil Rashid, Rashid Khan and Imran Tahir). Over the past few years, wrist spinners have managed to survive with their variations while the finger spinners have struggled. After the poor performances of Jadeja & Ashwin at the Champions Trophy, India wanted to try out their wrist spinning options and till now they have not disappointed.
Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal & Kuldeep Yadav were the three frontline spinners used in the series
While Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the opening bowler in all the games he played, his partner would either be Pandya, Bumrah or Shardul Thakur. While this was just Kohli trying out some things given Shami & Umesh have done well for India, it was interesting to see how they did.
Kohli’s modus operandi is to win the toss and chase. In the last 15 tosses he has won, Kohli has decided to bat first only once and that game was the game in which Rohit Sharma scored 264 runs and India scored 408 runs. So when India won the toss in the 4th ODI, they decided to bat first. India did really well as they scored 375 runs in that match with Kohli and Rohit Sharma going after the Sri Lankan bowling attack.
“In the last 15 tosses he has won, Kohli has decided to bat first only once”
With teams getting more aware of India’s chasing game, this decision to bat first was a refreshing change for a captain who loves chasing.